where did we come from, why are we here, where are we going?

Correspondence between me and my auntie ____ (9 feb. 2009).

From my auntie:

Markii, I was thinking about you over the week end.  I have 3 questions I’d like to ask you and am looking forward to hearing from you!

One.  With your new knowledge I was wondering
.  What do you believe you were doing or where were you before your sojourn on earth.

2.  What is your purpose on earth?

3.  Where do you believe or think the human race will go when we die?

Thanks  love you so much.  Auntie ____

My response…

thanks for the e-mail, ____.  i’ll do my best to answer below…

One.  With your new knowledge I was wondering
.  What do you believe you were doing or where were you before your sojourn on earth.

that’s a great question!  many people have tried to solve it, but i think it’s unsolvable.  i do not know where i was before my sojourn to earth.  i don’t know if i even “was”, or existed.  it is possible that our consciousness we now enjoy only recently matured and came to be as our minds physically developed during childhood.  i find this to sound more plausible than the idea that we are hundreds or thousands of years old human beings with that many years of learning and education behind us and yet here we only know that which we learn here.  is our older and wiser self sitting dormant in our mind while the two-year old biological self now learns to eat food and drools applesauce out of his mouth/nose?  and a middle-aged person who was mentally fine can have a car accident or disease in the brain and lose many motor and thinking skills, and many times even having a complete change in their personality and habits [click link to left, and ‘save as’, to hear mp3 on this] as a result?  a car accident or mental disease affects the tissue and neurons in the brain which then change how a thousand year-old sentient behaves/acts?  to me it seems more logical that there is a machine, but no “ghost in the machine”. Continue reading

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thanksgiving heretic

this question was posed on the skepchic blog:

When you spend time with your family (direct or distant) for the holidays, do you have to temporarily change anything about yourself, skeptical, religious or otherwise?  Do you find yourself acting differently either for the sake of harmony or simply because that’s how you’ve always related to them (no pun intended)?  Is that good or bad?

yesterday was thanksgiving, and thus i was around much of my family. running late for dinner, i threw on a shirt out the door we fly to mom and dad’s.

i did not read what was written on my random shirt, however:

Rebel of Faith

it’s a cool-looking t.- a slim-you-down black, painted with those ruby-red heretic words. problem is, the ruby red caught everyone’s eyes. first was my dear 80-year old mormon grandmother’s. her eyes were better than i had imagined: “rebel of faith?”, she inquired.

“yes, it means rebel FOR faith”. i quickly responded. i was lying, and i was proud of my apostasy, but not to my grandma. not when she has lived a long life FOR faith. so deep was her belief in her holy fairy tale for all of these years that the very neurons and connections in her mind can never again be unwoven. critical thinking and skepticism will not squeeze through the plaque and cholesterol polluting her mind’s neural tubes.

it’s over. SHE’s almost over. i say go with the flow. leave her happy. let her leave happy. when i noticed i had an extra shirt in the car, i changed it for her. and by the look on my mom’s face, i could see she felt relieved as well.

it was just a random shirt from my closet, without any agenda meant by me. i am proud of my heresy, and proud to be a “rebel of faith”, but thanksgiving this year was of a much higher quality leaving religion aside and focusing on family.

[here are some great links on thanksgiving]:

gay parenting

hurray for an obama campaign.  boo to the propositions that were passed in a few states taking away the rights of same-sex couples.  today i watched 30 Days (with Morgan Spurlock).  the episode was on same-sex parents.   it can be watched on hulu or you can google elsewhere to find the episode.  i had to write this quick post because i never cry (very rarely, at least), but tears streamed down my cheeks several times as i watched this.  i cried when i saw how loving the two fathers were with their kids.  i cried when i contemplated people wanting to take away their right to parent.  i cried when i saw one of their younger kids brushing his teeth and it made me sad to think some would have him taken away from them.  i cried when i saw this woman (who was living in their home and against gay adoption rights) as her mind was torn left and right in order to deal with the cognitive dissonance caused by seeing these great parents.  i cried when i saw two adults who were raised in foster homes, as they showed what it was like to live in that environment and how much they would have loved to have had a home, even a gay home, to call home.  i cried when i realized what a noble thing these two men were doing as they adopted special needs kids and others without a home to go to.  i cried when i contemplated the millions of people that voted in favor of taking away gay rights.  there are far too many foster kids as it is now, and if gays cannot adopt that will only increase the number of kids who may never, ever have a home.  that saddens my soul and sickens my stomach.  i also cried as i saw this woman never change her beliefs even though she wanted to. she wanted to.  but she couldn’t go against her faith as it had been taught to her that she should champion a faith-based belief over empathy, knowledge and experience.  lastly, i cried because the woman was a mormon and she represented the unshakable bigotted ignorance of the LDS church and it’s primary involvement in supporting proposition 8.  i rarely cry but this is a sad day.

ps:  please take the time to watch the episode while it’s still available.

confession time!

did you serve an LDS mission? did you break any rules? of course you did! over at MormonMatters.org there’s a discussion going on where returned missionaries are “confessing”. it’s really funny to read other people’s lists of broken rules, sins, and indulgences (it’s funny how many list “drinking cola” since that’s supposed to be so bad). my list is below, if you have comments to add, i’d like to read them here.

(mission area: Brasilia, Brazil 2000-2002)

just off the top of my head:

  • listened to unapproved “EFY” music and got interviewed by my mish. pres. for it (yeah, weird, huh.)
  • had pictures of a cute pop star (Sandy) under my name tag.
  • was seduced by 2 different women who would nurse and not cover up after removing the baby (one told me she was seducing me, the other i may have just been reading into “the body language” a little too much).
  • had a buddha statue on my desk for a while- felt weird/dark and took it down when a companion complained.
  • waded my feet in water in a river in the jungle (satan could have swept me away but i was lucky)
  • had sleepovers with another zl friend and we’d rent 5-6 movies and watch them all in one go. did this 2-3 times.
  • semi-porn billboards and posters were everywhere in brazil, and i would “notice them” just a few seconds too long.
  • lied to mish pres. about having “clean hands”. he left it unclear, so i just took it literally and said they were clean (with a “duh” look on my face- “c’mon, pres.”)
  • played nintendo at a member’s house, watched the news during lunch at the bishop’s house, went to domino’s on sunday with a member who forgot to cook us a meal (i gave her a guilt trip and recommended she take us to the new domino’s that had just opened).
  • towards the end of my mission i purchased whatever CD’s i felt like from the mall and listened to them while i went to sleep (it ended up being mostly enya).

and last but not least:

  • tricked a greenie brazilian missionary into praying to joseph smith- complete with candles and photographs!

fun times!

midnight prayer

we are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star. but we can understand the universe. that makes us something very special. (Stephen Hawking)

tonight i watched into the wild on my ipod. i watched while lying in my bed, before going to sleep. my short 2-3 sentence review is this: thank you, mr. krakauer for letting me vicariously live a fantasy of going into the wild and being one w/ nature. i also learned thru the experience of christopher (the main character in the story), that “happiness is only real when shared” (he wrote these words towards the end of his lonely, soul-searching journey to alaska). there’s got to be a way to be one with the world and continue our relationships around us, too. this is a new goal for me to live by. tonight my wife shared a poem with me that said: “real tragedy is not death, but a life not lived” Continue reading

10 songs- no cheating

well ned challenged his readers to post the next 10 songs that come up at random on you iPod. here go mine:

1. Sleazy (Mr. Timothy Remix)- by Dirty south. Found on DJ Solyn’s album Sunset Deluxe. I like to listen to good House music while i drive, and especially while working out. this is a pretty decent song that came up randomly (out of a thousand House tracks). [4 out of 5 stars].

2. If I Could Turn Back the Hands of Time– by R. Kelly. this song was okay like 10 years ago. not so into it now. [3 out of 5 stars]. Continue reading